What is cognition? Extended cognition and the criterion of the cognitive

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Abstract

According to the thesis of the extended mind, at least some (token) cognitive processes extend into the cognizing subject's environment in the sense that they are (partly) composed of processes of manipulation, exploitation and transformation performed by that subject on suitable environmental structures. In contrast, according to the thesis of the embedded mind, the manipulation, exploitation and transformation of (external) information-bearing structures provides a useful scaffolding which facilitates cognitive processes but does not, even in part, constitute them. The two theses are distinct but often confused. The extended mind has attracted three ostensibly distinct kinds of objection, all of which on further analysis reduce to the idea that the arguments for the extended mind in fact only establish the thesis of the embedded mind. This chapter has two goals. First, it argues that these three objections can all be resolved by the provision of an adequate and properly motivated criterion - or mark - of the cognitive. Second, it provides such a criterion - one made up of four conditions that are sufficient for a process to count as cognitive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the British Academy
Volume158
StatePublished - 2010

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cognition
manipulation
exploitation
Extended Mind
Extended Cognition
Cognition
Exploitation
Manipulation
Cognitive Processes
Information Structure
Scaffolding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Classics
  • Archaeology

Cite this

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